Gretchen Goes To Nebraska

King's X

Megaforce / Atlantic Records, 1989

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


In many ways, there are two versions of the progressive metal trio King's X. There's the Christian presence in a secular music form who recorded six CDs for Atlantic, from 1988's Out Of The Silent Planet (the title itself a nod to Christian author C.S. Lewis) to the psychedelic but troubled Ear Candy in 1996. Soon after, bassist Doug Pinnick came out of the closet, admitting his homosexuality and leaving Christianity, and the band signed with prog-metal flagship label Metal Blade, recording 1998's my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Tape Head and the current Please Come Home Mr. Bulbous.

Gretchen Goes To Nebraska was recorded during the height of King's X's Christian period, and is a concise, brilliant, and tightly recorded expression of faith and hope in an imperfect world. As a bonus in many ways, it's also a kick-ass bundle of rock and roll.

Lead guitarist Ty Tabor lists the Beatles as one of his major influences, and on Gretchen Goes To Nebraska that touch is pretty clear. Layered harmonies and minor-tinged melodies bring certain part of Sgt. Pepper's to mind, especially on the CD's opener "Out Of The Silent Planet". However, any resemblance to the Beatles shreds like a spiderweb in a cyclone when the next track, "Over My Head", kicks in with a vicious, stinging guitar. You're thrashing along, head banging like Mike Myers on speed - then you realize the lyrics are a spiritual. It's this kind of line King's X could walk with alacrity and skill on Gretchen Goes To Nebraska - the intertwining of spirit and steel.

Other tracks of note include the rich acoustic guitar of "Summerland"; the soaring harmonies of "The Difference"; the complex lyrics of "Pleiades"; and the wistful closing track, "Burning Down". Special note as well should go to "Mission", one of the most damning assaults on hypocrisy I've ever heard: "Who are these people behind the stained glass windows / Have they forgotten just what they came here for? / Was it salvation or 'scared of hell' / Or an assembly of a social get-together…."

Gretchen Goes To Nebraska is easily the best of King's X's Atlantic recordings, a rich, yet hard album full of hope, seven years away from Pinnick's honesty earning the band removal from Christian record stores across the country. It comes strongly recommended.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Megaforce / Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.